|Thomas Rawls (#38)|
Weight: 218 lbs.
High school: Flint (MI) Northern
Position: Running back
Jersey number: #38
Last year: I ranked Rawls #56 and said he would be a backup running back. He had 13 carries for 79 yards (6.1 yards per carry).
I can't say I'm a fan of the way Rawls was used last season. I'm not sure why the #4 running back on the roster (behind Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michael Shaw, and Vincent Smith) needed to burn a potentially valuable redshirt to run the ball a few times against Eastern Michigan, Minnesota, and Purdue. His 10 carries against Minnesota were in garbage time, and someone else could have picked up those other 3 carries against EMU and the Boilermakers. Inexperienced running backs can step right in and be very good, so I don't think he needed those 13 carries in order to be ready for 2012.
But going into 2012, Rawls might be the game one starter after all. It looks like incumbent starter Toussaint will be suspended for at least part of the Alabama game due to his drunk driving arrest, which leaves the running back duties up to Rawls, Smith, and guys who have never stepped on the field at Michigan. Rawls ran well in the spring game back in April, and reports from practice say Rawls "runs angry." He's a battering ram with a little bit of speed. Toussaint had success against good defenses last year, so he's a known quantity. Rawls had success against bad teams and Michigan's backups in the spring, so he's still a little unproven. I'm going to go out on a limb and trust practice reports here, so I expect Rawls to be pretty solid . . . but I also hope Toussaint doesn't have any more slip-ups and can return as soon as Brady Hoke sees fit.
Prediction: Part-time starting running back; 80 carries, 360 yards, 3 touchdowns